Sixteen-year-old Melbourne schoolgirl Jade Hameister loves a challenge, and she isn't going to let sexist Internet trolls affect her ambitions. She recently set a polar record: she is the youngest person to achieve the "polar hat-trick" of skiing to both poles and across Greenland. When she reached the South Pole, she sent a feminist message to the trolls who had targeted her online.
At the age of 12, Jade decided to take her "polar quest". After completing the first two parts, the North Pole and Greenland, she gave an inspiring TedX talk in Melbourne.
She began, "As a young woman I live in a world where I'm constantly bombarded with messages to be less. To eat less, to wear less, to shrink my ambitions to fit in, to wait for my Prince Charming to save me, or to avoid activities that are 'for boys'."
While the speech raised cheers from the audience and many positive reactions online, she also received lots of messages telling her to, "Make me a sandwich," implying that as a woman her place was in the kitchen, not skiing across ice shelves.
Undaunted, Jade set off in December 2017 to complete her hat-trick in Antarctica. After hauling a 100 kg sledge all the way to the South Pole, she decided to turn the trolls' advice back on them. She made a sandwich in her tent and posted on social media a photo of herself holding it (above), with the comment, "I made you a sandwich (ham & cheese), now ski 37 days and 600 kilometres to the South Pole and you can eat it."
Brave Not Perfect
Jade hopes her Polar Quest will draw attention to the damage being done to the polar regions by climate change. And encourage other young people, male and female, to try their own challenges, no matter how big or small. Don't worry about getting things right, never mind perfect, she says. "Seeking perfection makes us fearful of making mistakes or looking silly. It places limits on us and instead we tend to play it safe, or worse… we don’t even try. Courage acknowledges that we are imperfect and that we will make mistakes, but we try anyway." That's just as true when you are about to step onto the ice as it is when you dare to open your mouth in English class.
Find out more on her website.